CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Hurricane Lili headed toward NASA's mission operations center in Houston and could cause a postponement of Wednesday's planned launch of space shuttle Atlantis.
"We have a lot of concern" about the weather, shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore said late Monday. "We need the weather to be good here in Florida for launch and we also need the weather to be stable in Houston so we don't have the threat of an evacuation of the Johnson Space Center."
The National Hurricane Center is projecting that Hurricane Lili will take a track that would result in landfall east of Houston on Friday.
We're just going to have to wait, we're going to have to watch," said Dittemore. "It would be wonderful if it would just spin itself out and disappear, but that's not likely."
A decision to postpone launch, which is scheduled between 2-6 p.m. EDT Wednesday, may be made on Tuesday afternoon.
Atlantis is to carry a truss segment to the International Space Station. It will be the first mission since NASA grounded the fleet in June after tiny cracks were discovered in metal fuel flow liners in all of the spaceships. Concerned that fragments could break off and damage the shuttles' engines during launch, NASA postponed the shuttle flights to allow for repairs.
An additional delay was caused by the breakdown of the shuttle's Apollo-era crawler transporter, which is used to carry the spaceships to the launch pad.